than half the UK new car buyers surveyed see little difference between purchasing
from an import, internet or traditional dealer as long as they get the best price,
according to the latest bi-annual car buying habits survey by new car transaction
price monitor, Car Price Check.

The data shows that price continues to be more important than origin for the
consumer but 54% of buyers now say that they have no preference between an import
and a UK supplier.

This compares with 11% of the sample who said that they specifically wanted
to buy from an import source and 35% who said that they wanted to be supplied
from a UK source.

The findings are based on an analysis of the buying habits of 16,000 consumers
during July. The first survey took place last January.

At the turn of the year, 61% of consumers initially intended to buy from a
local source. However, during the ensuing six months, there was a gradual move
away from the traditional supply channels, with just 35% of people now stipulating
an initial desire to buy from a UK ‘bricks and mortar’ retailer in
the first instance.

Car Price Check CEO Steve Evans believes the industry has been “a bit
too internally focused” on analysing and commenting upon the competitive
pressures and virtues within the different trade channels (which now involve
such major brand names as Jam Jar, Virgin, tins, Carbusters and One Swoop) and
has ignored the fact that the consumer is delivering a slightly different message.

“Although many cars are not available as a ‘build to order’ choice from
an import source, suppliers in this [sector] are using the internet as a low
cost route to market for a varied proposition which embraces both import and
UK vehicles, some of which are supplied through arrangements with UK dealer
groups or even direct [from] manufacturers,” Evans said.

Closer analysis shows the consumer as being less bothered about the source
of supply as a reason not to buy, and, in increasing numbers, is prepared to
decide for him or herself whether there is really that great a difference between
an imported and a UK-supplied car.

“The average buyer is becoming increasingly more at ease in considering
and buying from reputable household and major online brand leaders as they integrate
UK supplied vehicles with import supplied vehicles at increasingly better value
and build local after-sales support capabilities, often using existing dealer
outlets to do so,” Evans said.

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regional report: Western Europe